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News | Treasury: Rev Guards Run Iran State Oil; Ahmadinejad Does Gotham

by DAN GEIST

25 Sep 2012 04:04Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Any views expressed are the authors' own. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

GhasemiNIOCSpeech.jpgMilitary-Industrial Complex Story of the Day

U.S. sanctions czar: Revolutionary Guards in effective control of Iranian petroleum

According to a U.S. Treasury Department report submitted to Congress on Monday, the department has determined that the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) is an "agent or affiliate" of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The primary effect of this determination is to increase the sanctions risk for third-party entities, particularly financial institutions, that do business with NIOC, which is formally a state-owned enterprise.

The report -- available here as a PDF download -- which appears over the signature of Adam J. Szubin, director of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, describes the Revolutionary Guards as "Iran's most powerful economic actor," responsible for "dominat[ing] many sectors of the economy, including energy, construction, and banking" and for "coordinating a new campaign to sell Iranian oil in order to evade international sanctions." It notes that Iran's Oil Ministry is headed by former Revolutionary Guard Brigadier General Rostam Ghasemi (pictured at a NIOC conference). Though Ghasemi officially retired from the military when he was appointed oil minister last August, the Treasury report observes that he has since "publicly stated his allegiance" to the Guards.

Quote of the Day

"Iran has been around for the last seven, ten thousand years. They [the Israelis] have been occupying those territories for the last 60 to 70 years, with the support and force of the Westerners. They have no roots there in history.... We don't even count them as any part of any equation for Iran. During a historical phase, they represent minimal disturbances that come into the picture and are then eliminated."

-- Speaking via an interpreter to reporters at a press conference in New York, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad shares his perspective on the past and future of select Middle Eastern locales. He is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.

Video of the Day

At another point in the press conference, Ahmadinejad rebuffs an opportunity to endorse his American counterpart for reelection.

Deal of the Day

Nuclear envoy goes on record with Iran's readiness to halt 20% enrichment -- if...

In an interview published Monday, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), became the first Iranian official to publicly state that the Islamic Republic has offered to completely cease its enrichment of uranium to 19.75 percent (commonly rounded to 20 percent) in return for sanctions relief. Speaking with IPS's Gareth Porter, Soltanieh said the offer was made at the meeting in Istanbul last Wednesday between Saeed Jalili, Iran's head nuclear negotiator, and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who leads the negotiating team for the P5+1 (the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany).

"We are prepared to suspend enrichment to 20 percent, provided we find a reciprocal step compatible with it," Soltanieh said. "If we do that, there shouldn't be sanctions." However, he reiterated his government's position that it would not agree to shut down its underground uranium enrichment facility at Fordow. As the IPS story notes, "The P5+1 demand for closure of the Fordow enrichment plant [is] apparently based on the premise the facility was built exclusively for 20-percent enrichment. But Iran has officially informed the IAEA that it is for both enrichment to 20 percent and enrichment to 3.5 percent." According to the data presented in the August 30 IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program, the centrifuge cascades at Fordow, which went online last December 14, have so far been used only to convert already enriched uranium to levels up to 20 percent. Iran's other enrichment facility, at Natanz, produces both 3.5 and 20 percent enriched uranium.

Headline of the Day

"Official Calls for Oscar Boycott"

-- From Amsterdam-based Radio Zamaneh. So, you were wondering. What else can a 14-minute Z-grade YouTube video accomplish? This: "I propose that since the members of the Academy [of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences] ha[ve] not made a fitting statement denouncing the producers of the film that insults our sacred and heavenly prophet, we reject participation in this cinematic event in sympathy with the half-billion injured Muslims and even seven and a half billion free spirits of the world," opines the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance's Javad Shamaghdari, deputy minister in charge of cinematic affairs.

Photo of the Day

MehdiHashemiIRNA924.jpg

Mehdi Hashemi, son of Expediency Discernment Council Chairman and former President Akbar Hasemi Rafsanjani. In the description of the state-run Press TV website, Hashemi was arrested "over his role in the unrest that followed the country's 2009 presidential vote...hours after he arrived at Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport from Dubai Sunday night." He had spent most of the past three years in England. For an analysis of this story, see A New Turn for Rafsanjani and His Family.

Copyright © 2012 Tehran Bureau

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